After Sheriff Jim Anderson announces the formation of a local Crime Stoppers program Jan. 29, crime in Santa Barbara County will start paying – for police informants, anyway.

The new “Crime Stoppers of Santa Barbara County” organization, a local chapter of Crime Stoppers International (CSI), will provide phone lines on which citizens can anonymously report tips to help law enforcement close unsolved crimes. If a tip leads to a conviction, the caller is entitled to an award of up to $1,000.

“I think Crime Stoppers will help get the community more involved,” Anderson said. “People will be allowed to remain completely anonymous from the beginning. They are only given a number for identification.”

Anderson said Crime Stoppers is funded locally through donations and fund-raising events. The program is administered by a committee of citizen volunteers who decide the specific value of each cash award granted.

“Crime Stoppers differs from other crime prevention programs like WeTip because it is funded locally,” Anderson said. “I think it will positively affect crime in Isla Vista.”

According to the CSI website, Crime Stoppers began in New Mexico in 1976 with the goal of combining information from the public with the infrastructure and expertise of law enforcement agencies to efficiently solve more crimes.

There are over 1,000 Crime Stoppers programs worldwide, including two other California programs in San Jose and Palm Desert.

Through December 2002, CSI reports that Crime Stopper tips have netted 408,298 arrests and resulted in $60,258,852 of reward payments to callers. The organization has also recovered $1,334,081,450 of stolen property and $4,109,489,464 worth of narcotics.

“We have the phone lines up and ready to go,” Anderson said.

The Santa Barbara County Crime Stopper Hotline number is 1-877-800-9100.